Avian signatures for identity and status in Anglo-Saxon England.

  • Jaques S
  • Dobney K
  • 24

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Abstract

The presence and diversity of wild bird remains recovered from archaeological sites can be used to explore questions beyond mere subsistence strategies and wildfowling techniques. A survey of 26 avian assemblages from English Anglo-Saxon vertebrate assemblages (broadly classified into settlement types) was undertaken in order to assess if interpretable patterns of data, reflecting attributes linked to the broader nature and character of settlements and their inhabitants, could be recovered. A more limited range of species were noted from ecclesiastical rural and early trading emporia (wics) compared with the high status estate and urban centres. A case study (using data from the well stratified assemblage from Flixborough, UK), supported broad conclusions drawn from the original survey by highlighting a possible ecclesiastical avian signature at this site during the 9th century, with elements associated with high status identified from the 8th and 10th centuries. Further, more detailed, consideration of individual avian species (particularly Gruidae, Ardeidae and raptors) also suggest their association with particular categories of sites and their significance in identifying high status pursuits such as falconry.

Author-supplied keywords

  • anglo-saxon
  • bird bones
  • dabble duck industrial estate
  • deborah j aques
  • department of archaeology
  • durham dh1 3le
  • falconry
  • keith d obney
  • palaeoecology research services
  • shildon
  • status
  • uk
  • university of durham

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Authors

  • S D Jaques

  • K Dobney

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